Evil Bug Corps: Kickbutt by BadCube

Here we are, folks, at BadCube’s final entry in their line of Not-Insecticons. Over the last two weeks I’ve looked at Claymore and Hypno, and now it’s Kickbutt’s turn. And yes, if you haven’t noticed some might say that Kickbutt bears something of a resemblance to that Transforming grasshopper Kickback, but I’m sure that wasn’t intentional and a total coincidence. Also… his name is great. Kickbutt. Lolz. Copyright infringement can be fun!

This is the third time seeing this packaging. It’s a fully enclosed box with some nice character artwork on the front. On it’s own, there’s nothing too remarkable here, but if you put all three packages together it creates a little panorama of art, which is kind of neat. Kickbutt comes packaged in his robot mode, between two clear plastic trays, but I’m going to “kick” things off with his alt mode.

Yup, he’s a grasshopper. Or locust. I’m not sure, because I’m not one of them bug doctors. In any event, Kickbutt’s alt mode looks absolutely fantastic, although of the three it is the most fiddly. Part of that has to do with the nature of his alt mode. Grasshoppers just aren’t as compact as beetles, so his legs required a bit of extra futzing when I was posing him to get all those legs even. Either way, I don’t want to make it out to be a big deal and it’s worth the effort because this bug mode is every bit as great as his fellow Evil Corps members.

Some points of interest include his ass-gun (they don’t call him Kickbutt for nothing!), the face shield that keeps his robot head from peeping at you when you look underneath, and the wonderful articulation in his legs. Not only are his back legs fully articulated, but his fronts are as well. Like Hypno, Kickbutt’s legs can hold him so he’s standing with his undercarriage completely off the ground. The butt gun may turn some people off, as it’s definitely the biggest departure any of these designs take from the original G1 models, but I actually enjoy that it incorporates the gun into the alt mode. Plus, he can still shoot at things when he’s running away.

The articulation also means that he can be posed with his back legs rearing up and kicking, which is pretty damn cool.

The deco here falls right in line with his peers and includes the same lovely black plastic with a smooth satin finish, purple plastic, and some red and blue paint hits for detail. I really dig the pencil thin blue lining that circles around those recessed gears on his legs. As this is the “Collector’s Edition” upgrade, Kickbutt features chromed out wings, a chromed out butt gun, and a yellow translucent plastic hatch on his back.

And here are some quick shots for scale comparison. Like his buddies, he dwarfs his G1 counterpart, and rightly so, as those guys are roughly equivalent to today’s Legends Class figures. On the other hand, he’s just a bit bigger than your average Masterpiece car, which for me makes him scaled perfectly with Takara’s MP line. So how’s the robot mode?

Pretty damn great! (Even better if you remember to turn both his fists the right way, which I sadly did not! DAMMIT!) Now, if you read my other Bug Corps reviews, than you’ll know I found Hypno and Claymore to have pretty comfy transformations. Kickbutt breaks that trend. The first time, I converted this guy it was a fidgety nightmare with bug and robot parts flopping around everywhere! He was not fun to transform. But the second time (and a couple days later), I attempted it without instructions and I was surprised to find that I had no problems. So, it’s still pretty fiddly with a lot going on, but it’s fairly intuitive, and it’s impressive just what a clean bot form it produces. The proportions on this guy are great and he fits the bill as a great looking MP version of Kickback.

The deco remains pretty consistent with what we saw in bug mode, with that lovely combination of black and purple and some extra hits of silver and red to make things pop. Once again, the translucent yellow chest plate and those beautiful chromed out wings are exclusive to the “Collector’s Edition” and I couldn’t imagine going any other way with these guys. I really dig the little bit of extra sculpted detail on his back and the fact that they painted it in yellow to more closely match the deco of the other two buggy bots.

Also, like his peers, Kickbutt can store his gun on his back.

The head sculpt is superb and follows the Sunbow animated model of the character, rather than the G1 toy. The silver paint looks sharp and I can’t even begin to properly express my love for that red paint they used for his visor. It looks amazing. His yellow antenna swivel, so you can pose them to give him a little more expression if you like. Also, like Claymore, Kickback comes with an extra smirking face. It’s a great bonus, but not something I’m likely to bother with ever swapping out. I will, however, eventually make use of that spot in the middle of his chest for a Decepticon sticker.

Kickbutt’s gun features the same great “tommy gun” design that the original toy’s gun had. It also features the same spatula handle design that the other Bug Corps guns use. It simply tabs into the slot inside the hand and you hinge the knuckles closed around it.

And yes, Kickbutt also comes with another squishy plastic Energon cube. Before wrapping up, let’s take a look at some size comparison shots for the robot mode.

Yup, he towers over his official G1 counterpart. I love checking these out side-by-side and seeing what a great job BadCube did updating the design. And once again, I think these bugs scale beautifully with the Masterpiece cars. Kickbutt has the edge over Smokecreen, but only because of his shoulder wings. Otherwise, he’s about a head shorter, and that works perfectly for me!

As I mentioned in the previous reviews, these guys are currently selling as a set at $140 for the “Collector’s Edition” and I can honestly say these feel like one of the few bargains of the 3P Transformers market. At just under $50 a figure, they’re certainly a little cheaper than the official MP figures of the same size. I think BadCube did a great job here on just about every level. The plastic quality feels good, the engineering has just the right level of complexity (at least if you account for the initial shock of Kickbutt’s transformation) and the designs hit that wonderful sweet spot between Sunbow animated model and original toy homage. I feel as if this trio fills a vacant hole in my collection. The Legends Class Insecticons were fine individually, but they just don’t match up well enough as a set for me to fully enjoy them. These fellas, on the other hand, really make for a great looking team. And while I hear that Fan Toys’ Not-Insecticons are also pretty spectacular, I’ve got no regrets having gone with these guys.

Evil Bug Corps: Hypno by BadCube

Last week, I kicked off my look at BadCube’s Not-Insecticons with a review of the leader, Claymore, and found him to be an excellent bug-bot. Today I’m pressing on with Hypno, who you could possibly argue is inspired by a certain Transformer called Bombshell. But I’m sure that BadCube’s lawyers would suggest otherwise. The Bug Corps are scaled to go with Takara’s Masterpiece Collection and as I write this are readily available at a few online retailers for some very good deals.

I bought my Bug Corps as a set, but they come individually boxed. The boxes have some nice artwork on the front, but are otherwise unremarkable. The figure comes packaged in his robot mode, between two clear plastic trays. You also get a beefy instruction book that covers all three figures, a character card, and an Energon cube. I should also note that I’m looking at the “Collector’s Edition” set, which for a little bit more money gives you some chromed parts and translucent chests. Let’s start with the bug mode!

Hypno’s cyber-beetle mode is a fantastic update to the original G1 toy. This new design retains the large boxy body with rounded edges as well as the down swept head, large bug eyes, six legs, and long silver proboscis. He features some simple sculpted panel lines, which are just enough to add detail and still let him keep something of a smooth, animated appearance. The coloring here features a lot of black plastic, which has a nice satin finish, yellow plastic for his eyes and under his belly, and purple plastic for the head. The deco is rounded out with some red and blue paint hits on the body for detail and that gorgeous chrome on his proboscis.

This is a really solid bug that locks together perfectly, and the die cast gives it some decent heft for a figure this size. One of the things I dig the most about this guy is his set of chunky and fully articulated legs. Each leg features several strong hinges, and the legs are capable of holding Hypno so that his undercarriage isn’t resting on the ground. I’m not entirely sure why this pleases me so much, but it does.

Once again, this premium edition features the transparent yellow panel on the top of the head, and he has some surprisingly good articulation in the proboscis. Not only can it hinge up and down, but the front of it can swivel. The plate on the front of his head also floats on a joint, so it can move a bit side to side to get an even better range of motion out of that chromed out sucker.

Here are some side-by-side shots of Hypno in his bug mode with other figures. He’s obviously a lot bigger than the original G1 toy, which is no surprise as those were quite small and roughly equivalent to the modern Legends Class. The shot of him beside Streak shows he’s just a bit bigger than the MP cars. As with Claymore, I think this scale holds pretty well as the original Insecticons were about on par with the original Autobot cars. So far, I’m thrilled with the way this guy turned out, but how about his robot mode, eh?

Not bad at all! I found transforming Hypno to be a bit more fiddly than Claymore, but really not by much. A lot of the engineering involves his robot legs packing and unpacking into the back of the bug. There’s also a clever flip that happens inside his torso to exchange the robot head with the front of the bug head. Another key point worth mentioning is that his proboscis actually detaches to become his weapon in robot mode and I think that works great. BadCube selected some iconic aspects of the original toy to remain, like the tenuous way the arms attach to the shoulders, but they also streamlined a lot too. There’s virtually no bug-kibble on the arms at all, just the blasters that he has on his forearms. I will say that I think the front of Hypno’s lower legs look a bit unpolished, but it’s not all that bad, and they added some paint hits to help spruce it up.

The back of Hypno presents a very clean robot. Again, there’s really no bug-kibble to be seen. Even the two insect legs that reside back here are folded up neatly on his little yellow backpack. The back of the legs look even more refined than the front, with some blue and red paint down near the ankles. About the only thing I can gripe about here are the exposed screw heads, and that’s to be expected. Also, the backpack serves as a storage for Hypno’s gun. It simply clips right on.

Bombshell always had the most distinctive head sculpt of the Insecticons, and by sheer coincidence so does Hypno! I’ve always loved the mouth plate on this guy. It looks like a knight’s visor. The paint used for the eyes casts a cool shimmer effect, which can look like light-piping from certain angles. And, of course, on top Hypno has a faked out diminished version of his proboscis, which can be angled up and down for firing Insecti-shells. Once again, the chest plate on these “Collector’s” versions is clear plastic and he has some silver painted panels down near his abs.

The articulation here is right on par with Claymore. The arms feature universal movement in the shoulders, double hinges in the elbows with swivels, and swivels in the wrists. The legs have rotating hinges in the hips, with some lovely clicking ratchets, double hinges in the knees, and the ankles feature both hinges and lateral rockers. He can rotate at the waist and he has a ball joint in his neck.

As mentioned earlier, Hypno comes with a chromed gun, which is actually formed from the insect mode’s proboscis. It has a spatula-shaped handle that tabs into a slot inside either of Hypno’s fists and holds it pretty well.

And finally, Hypno comes with the same type of Energon cube that we saw with Claymore. Yup, it’s just a squishy cube of pink plastic, but cool nonetheless. Finally, let’s check out a couple of size-comparison shots.

Hypno towers over the original G1 version of Bombshell and he comes up just a little short of Masterpiece Streak, which feels perfect to me. I really dig the way these two styles fit together, making Hypno quite welcome on one of my official MP shelves.

As I mentioned last time, this “Collector’s Edition” of the Evil Bug Corps set me back $140, which makes these guys about $47 each and I think that makes them an incredible value. Indeed, it’s hard to find many MP scaled third party convertorobots of this quality for under $50 these days. The engineering is complex enough, but not overly fiddly, the tolerances feel fine, and there’s nothing involved in the transformation that feels like it can damage the toy. Yup, in the end, I give Hypno two Proboscises up. Sorry, I’ll never get to use that word again, so I might as well go nuts. Anyway, that’s two bug-bots down and my love for the Evil Bug Corps remains unshaken. These guys look fantastic together, and I’m all the more excited to bring the final member of the trio in next week when I look at Kickback… I mean… Kickbutt!

Evil Bug Corps: Claymore by BadCube

I promised y’all that I had plenty of Transformers to keep Transformers Thursday going through most of the Summer, but I didn’t say they’d all be official products. Nope, today I’m going back to the world of Third Party convertorobots, a place I haven’t visited in nearly two years. It would be premature to say I’ve given up on the 3P stuff, but I’ve obviously pulled back on it a lot. I do, however, still have some unfinished business, like finally getting a set of Masterpiece-quality Insecticons. Shrapnel, Bombshell, and Kickback have always been among my favorite G1 characters, and there’s been no shortage of 3P versions to choose from. It was a recent deal on Bad Cubes’ Evil Bug Corps that finally got me to take the plunge.

These fellas were sold as a set, but they came individually boxed, and they’re each certainly worthy of their own reviews, so I’m starting today with Claymore, who could very possibly be mistaken for Shrapnel, but I’m sure that wasn’t intended at all. The figure comes in a rather unassuming enclosed box. There’s some cool artwork on the front, but not a lot else of note. Inside, Claymore is packaged in his robot mode, between two clear trays. He comes with a beefy instruction book that covers all three figures, a file card, and an Energon Cube. I should note that Claymore comes packaged with his pincers off. They snap into place via ball joints and I’m a little apprehensive about popping them on and off a lot, as it’s bound to stress the socket’s plastic. It’s a tad annoying, because if you want to put him back in the box, you have to take them off again. Anyway, let’s go ahead and start with his alt mode.

Claymore is a cybernetic stag beetle and if you’re looking for a faithful update to the original toy’s alt mode, this is definitely it! This bug is beefier and certainly locks together better than his G1 predecessor, but still retains all the familiar characteristics. You get the squared off body, the dual thrusters in his bug butt, the thinly disguised robot arms on the sides, and the long yellow feet. The bits of added die cast also give the figure a satisfying degree of heft. The coloring on this figure is absolutely perfect. Keep in mind, we’re looking at the premium “Collector’s Edition” release, which means the pincers and head are beautifully chromed out and the hatch on top is translucent yellow plastic. The black has a nice satin-matte finish, the purple is just the right shade for a proud Decepticon, and the yellow on the feet really pops.

In addition to locking together really well, this mode features a few other notable improvements. The pincers, as mentioned earlier are ball jointed, so you can get a lot of nice movement out of them. Besides opening and closing, they can be raised and lowered and moved independently of each other. It’s fun to play around with them and they can be posed to give him a lot of personality. Also, the chrome shield that covers Claymore’s robot face is not connected to the pincers, so you don’t have to reveal the robot head when you open and close them. The feet are not only hinged at the body, but also at the front tips, so you can have Claymore rear back a bit, which makes for a nice angle for display in his bug-bot mode.

If your curious about size comparison, he’s certainly a lot bigger than the G1 originals. Well, obviously… those bugs were tiny! In beetle mode, Claymore is about on par with a Masterpiece car, actually just a little bit bigger, which feels perfect to me. Now, transforming this guy is obviously a lot more complex than the original toy, but it’s actually not that bad at all for a Masterpiece-level figure. Not to get ahead of myself, but I find Claymore to be the easiest of this buggy bunch by far. Most of the work lies in packing and unpacking the robot legs, which is to be expected. The clearances and tolerances all feel good, and while I certainly had to consult the instructions the first time I took him from bot to bug and back to bot, I have been good to go on my own after that.

All of those successes from his beetle mode translate beautifully into a fantastic robot mode that hits all the points I’m looking for in a Masterpiece style Shrapnel. The proportions on this guy are great and he’s a damn solid robot. In fact, the only thing I’m going to gripe about here is the way the halves of the chrome face shield kind of just hover there above his shoulders a little too much in the foreground. If BadCube could have hinged these to fold backwards, I’d consider this fella a perfect 10. As it is, I’m thinking he’s approaching a solid 9. I just thought I’d get that quibble out of the way because it’s literally the only negative thing I have to say here. So, allow me to hit some of the cool high points…

I love this head sculpt and the silver and metallic red paint used for the face is very striking. Claymore does include an alternate smirking face, but the difference to me is negligible and I doubt I’ll ever go through the bother of swapping it out. The sculpted detail on the translucent yellow chest plate is great. It’s hard for me to imagine going for the yellow-painted-chest version on these figures. Maybe the appeal there is that it looks more like the animated style, whereas this is more like the toy. And yes, I do plan on slapping a Decepticon emblem on there when I get around to it… maybe for the final group shot. Finally, I really dig the metallic blue strips on the sides of his chest. They add that little extra pop to the deco.

The forearms feature mounted guns. which are always handy when you’re a member of an Evil Bug Corps. These are also articulated as part of the transformation, so if you want to give them an extended firing mode, that option is available to you.

The beetle legs pack pretty neatly away on his back and offer a convenient place for Claymore to store his gun. All in all, he’s pretty good looking from the back. You do get some exposed screw heads, but even those aren’t terribly obvious or unsightly.

If you remove the gun from his back, you can also make out some of the silver paint detailing, which is a really nice touch when you consider it can only be seen here or when looking at the beetle mode from underneath. BadCube could have totally left this out and nobody would have noticed.

The gun is painted in the same satin-silver as the figure’s upper legs. This is also the same paint used on the pincers on the regular edition set. The handle is a little odd, as it’s just a flat square that tabs inside the hand and then you close the hinged knuckle around it. It’s worth noting that Claymore is the only one of the three that doesn’t have a specific function for his gun while he’s in bug mode.

Claymore’s articulation is excellent. The arms are ball jointed at the shoulders, there are swivels in the biceps and wrists, and the elbows are double jointed. The legs have ratcheting hinges in the hips, which supply a satisfying click when re-positioned. The knees are double hinged and the ankles are hinged and have lateral rockers for those wide stances. There’s a swivel in the waist and the neck is ball jointed. All the joints on my figure are nice and tight, although I do feel like the ball joints will loosen fairly quickly and may eventually need some dabs of furniture polish, because I can’t stop playing with this guy.

Again, on the issue of scaling, Claymore’s robot mode dwarfs the G1 toy, but more importantly it scales beautifully with the Masterpiece cars. If you don’t count his antenna, Claymore comes in just a little short of MP Lambor, and I think that’s right where he’s supposed to be. The style of the designs match quite well too.

The included Energon Cube is just a squishy cube of pinkish plastic, but a nice addition nonetheless. And we all know how Shrapnel loved his energon… energon.

My longing after 3P Insecticons goes all the way back to FansProject’s Causality bugs, a set that I procrastinated on just a little too long before it was sold out at most retailers. After that it was a long internal struggle over whether to go with Fans Toys bugs or this Evil Bug Corps by BadCube. There were many pros and cons for me and in the end, it was just so close to call that I wound up at a stalemate. I couldn’t decide and wound up buying neither. It wasn’t until this set became available on clearance at a certain E-tailer that I decided to pull the trigger. And judging by Claymore alone, I’m very glad I did. The “Collector’s Edition” set was $140 (about $20 more than the regular editions), which makes Claymore about $46. Not bad at all for a Masterpiece scaled Third Party change-o-bot. The quality is certainly here and the engineering is just complex enough, but not overly complicated. Next week, we’ll press on with a look at Bombshell… er, I mean… Hypno!